Saturday 04 February 2023

Wilders under investigation after Austrian complains about comments on Islam


Geert Wilders during the 2012 election campaign. Photo:

The Dutch prosecution service is investigating statements on Islam by far-right politician Geert Wilders following an official request from Austria, reports the AD on Friday.

Austria has requested that the Dutch government pursue a complaint on comments made by Wilders during a 2015 speech in Vienna, calling Islam an ‘ideology of war and hatred.’ He also said, reports the AD, that: ‘Islam calls people to be terrorists: the Koran leaves no doubt about it.’

A Muslim organisation in Vienna had reported the speech to Austrian police in 2015, sparking an investigation there. Now, spokesperson Nina Bussek reportedly told the AD, they have decided not to pursue the complaint but to ‘transfer it to colleagues in the Netherlands.

The OM prosecution service in The Hague has confirmed that it has taken on the case to several newspapers on Friday. Wilders was accused of ‘verhetzung’, a crime similar to rioting and for which several Viennese politicians have received suspended sentences, under stricter Austrian law.

‘Nazi rhetoric’

He had been invited to speak by sister Austrian party, the Freedom Party (FPO), and a day later it was reported that chairman of the Austrian Muslim Initiative Tarafa Baghajati had made an official complaint. ‘Wilders gave the impression that all Muslims are here to make war against Europeans,’ he reportedly said. ‘It made me think above all of the Nazi rhetoric of the 1930s.’

He had complained about the Freedom Party but the Viennese court decided to start a preliminary investigation into Wilders.

Early on Friday morning, Wilders responded to the AD story, tweeting that it was ‘incomprehensible’ and that ‘they should be catching thieves and terrorists instead of persecuting a politician for speaking the truth about Islam’. He tagged his response #legaljihad.

Previous trials

Last year, Wilders was found guilty of inciting racial discrimination and insulting Moroccan people in the Netherlands after leading a rally calling for ‘fewer, fewer Moroccans’ in the country. He was given no punishment, and is appealing the conviction.

In 2011 he was acquitted of inciting hatred against Muslims after comparing the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf, as the judge ruled he was attacking Islam and not all Muslim believers, and his comments were ‘acceptable within the context of public debate.’

Wilders’ PVV party won the second-highest number of seats at the general election in March, but the other main parties have refused to work with it in a coalition.

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